Tuesday, February 17, 2009

FROM THE DEMOCRATIC POLICY COMMITTEE

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
Creating Jobs, Investing in Our Country’s Future, and Cutting Taxes
For the People of Utah

Today, by a supermajority vote of 60, the Senate sent the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to the Obama Administration for signature into law. This urgently-needed legislation requested by President Obama will create and protect 3.5 million jobs for American workers and begin to put the nation’s economy back on track. We are confronting the most severe economic problems in generations as millions of Americans are struggling. That’s why the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will create good-paying jobs; make investments in America’s future; and cut taxes for working families. Our plan also delivers transparency and accountability to guarantee that all taxpayer money is invested responsibly.

What does this mean for Utah?

Job-Creating Investments

Since the recession began in December 2007, the nation has lost more than 3.6 million jobs, with 50 percent of those losses occurring within the last three months, and the national unemployment rate has skyrocketed to 7.6 percent. Without swift action, economists estimate that an additional five million job losses could occur this year and the unemployment rate could rise to 10 percent.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will create or save 3.5 million good paying jobs nationally over the next two years, more than 90 percent of which will be in the private sector. According to the White House, approximately 32,000 of these jobs will be in Utah. Getting America back to work is the first step on the road to economic recovery and long term competitiveness and prosperity.
Infrastructure and science. In order to rebuild our weakening economy, these investments in our physical and cyber infrastructure will put Utahns immediately to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, and will also enable the creation of a stronger and more efficient infrastructure for the 21st century economy. According to the Senate Committee on Appropriations, our economic recovery package includes the following estimated benefits for Utah:*
$19.7 million through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to address the
backlog of drinking water infrastructure needs


$21 million through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to address the backlog
of clean water infrastructure needs
$213.5 million in Highway Funding to be used on activities eligible under the
Federal-aid Highway Program’s Surface Transportation Program and could also include
rail and port infrastructure activities at the discretion of the states
$58.1 million in Transit Formula Funding for investments in mass transit•
$4.1 million through the Public Housing Capital Fund to enable local public
housing agencies to address a national $32 billion backlog in capital needs – especially
those improving energy efficiency in aging developments – in this critical element of the
nation’s affordable housing infrastructure
$11.7 million in HOME Funding to enable state and local government, in partnership
with community-based organizations, to acquire, construct, and rehabilitate affordable
housing and provide rental assistance to poor families
$8.5 million through the Homelessness Prevention Fund to be used for
prevention activities, which include: short or medium-term rental assistance, first and
last month’s rental payment, or utility payments. As such, most of this funding will go
directly into the economy of local communities, as the funds will be used to pay housing
and other associated costs in the private market Education and Training in Utah. In order to compete in the 21st Century, we must have a well-educated workforce, capable of adapting to an ever-changing economic environment.
Investing in education now will ensure that the next generation of Utah’s workers is ready and able to meet the challenge of global competition. In the near-term, millions of workers have seen their jobs disappear, and find themselves unable to match their skill sets with existing opportunities. Providing job training in new and expanding fields will help to lower the unemployment rate and help today’s workers better compete against foreign competition.
According to the Senate Committee on Appropriations, our economic recovery package includes the following estimated benefits for Utah:*
$381.3 million through the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund to local school districts
and public colleges and universities in addition to incentive grants as a reward for
meeting key education performance measures and additional funding for other high priority needs such as public safety and other critical services, which may include
education
$105.5 million for Special Education Part B State Grants to help improve
educational outcomes for individuals with disabilities, raising the federal contribution to
nearly 40 percent, the level established when the law was authorized more than 30 years ago
$3.1 million in education technology funds to purchase up-to-date computers and
software and provide professional development to ensure the technology is used
effectively in the classroom
$56.7 million for Title I Education for the Disadvantaged to help close the
achievement gap and enable disadvantaged students to reach their potential
$4.5 million in State Employment Service Grants to match unemployed
individuals to job openings through state employment service agencies and allow Utah to provide customized reemployment services
$3.3 million in Dislocated Workers State Grants, particularly for grants that
support immediate strategies for regions and communities to meet their need for skilled
workers, as well as longer-term plans to build targeted industry clusters with better
training and a more productive workforce
$1.8 million for Department of Labor’s Adult State Grants
$5.1 million for Department of Labor’s Youth State Grants
$5 million for Vocational Rehabilitation to help individuals with disabilities prepare for and sustain gainful employment

According to the White House, the economic recovery plan provides funding sufficient to
modernize at least 412 schools in Utah so that our children have the labs, classrooms, and libraries they need to learn to compete in the 21st century economy. The economic recovery
package also includes more Pell Grants for the 76,000 Pell Grant recipients in Utah.

Utah’s Energy. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 would provide
investments in areas critical to the development of clean, efficient, American energy, including modernizing energy transmission, research and development of renewable energy technologies, and modernizing and upgrading government buildings and vehicles. According to the Senate Committee on Appropriations, our economic recovery package includes the following estimated benefits for Utah:*

$35 million through the State Energy Program
$38.8 million through the Weatherization Assistance Program

Protecting the Vulnerable in Utah. The current economic crisis has affected all Utahns,
but none more so than the most vulnerable among us. The spending proposed here will serve to lessen the blow of the current recession, providing immediate relief for children, the poor, and others who may find themselves struggling to put food on the table or a roof over their head. It will also address the urgent need to provide safe and secure places to live, even in neighborhoods that are struggling with high unemployment and surging foreclosure rates.
According to the Senate Committee on Appropriations, our economic recovery package includes the following estimated benefits for Utah:*

$929,994 for National School Lunch Program Equipment Assistance
$573,756 through the Emergency Food Assistance Program
$89.6 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (formerly Food Stamps)
$489,198 for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program, which provides grants to
nonprofit and faith-based organizations at the local level to supplement their programs
for emergency food and shelter to provide for the immediate needs of the homeless
$22.4 million in Child Care and Development Block Grants to provide quality
child care services for in low-income families who increasingly are unable to afford the
high cost of day care
$4.2 million for Head Start to allow additional children to participate in this
program, which provides development, educational, health, nutritional, social and other
activities that prepare children to succeed in school
$4.9 million in Community Services Block Grants to local community action
agencies for services to the growing numbers of low-income families hurt by the
economic crisis, such as housing and mortgage counseling, jobs skills training, food
pantry assistance, as well as benefits outreach and enrollment
$763,020 for Senior Meals Programs to help senior meals programs cope with
steep increases in food and fuel costs. Many programs are reducing meal deliveries to
seniors or closing meal sites

Law Enforcement in Utah. Nearly every sector of the American job market has suffered job loss and programming cuts, including state and local law enforcement. Cuts in this field can have a devastating direct and indirect effect on the health of a community by way of increased crime, lowered property values, business closings, and the loss of good paying, upwardly-mobile, middle class growing jobs.
According to the Senate Committee on Appropriations, our economic recovery package includes the following estimated benefits for Utah:*

$15.8 million in Byrne/JAG grants to support law enforcement efforts
$1.2 million in Internet Crimes Against Children Grants to help law
enforcement agencies enhance their investigative response to offenders who use the
Internet, online communication systems, or other computer technology to sexually
exploit children
$1.8 million in Violence Against Women Grants for victim services programs to
improve the criminal justice system’s response to violent crimes against women and to
assist victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking who are
in need of transitional housing, short-term housing assistance, and related support
services

Extended Unemployment Insurance for Utah

Unemployment in Utah stood at 4.3 percent in December 2008 (the last month for which we have data). The Department of Labor estimates that Utah could receive $61.4 million in new funding if Utah fully enacts the UI modernization incentives that the legislation would provide.
According to the National Employment Law Project, this means that an additional $100 in unemployment insurance benefits will be offered to approximately 74,000 workers who have lost their jobs in this recession.
In addition, the economic recovery plan will alleviate the tax burden for already struggling Americans collecting unemployment benefits by temporarily suspending the federal income tax on the first $2,400 of benefits per recipient in 2009.

Tax Relief for Utah Families and Small Businesses

According to the White House and Senate Committee on Finance, the following are examples of tax provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that will help Utah businesses and families, create jobs and get Utah’s economy moving:

Up to $400 for workers (or $800 for married couples) in the new Making Work Pay
Tax Credit for 890,000 workers and their families
$250 to Social Security beneficiaries, SSI recipients, and disabled veterans
$2,500 for 24,000 additional families in Utah that will qualify for the new American
Opportunity Tax Credit that makes college more affordable for 3.8 million families
nationwide
Extended and increased Homebuyer Tax Credit to both help aspiring homeowners and stabilize plummeting home prices
Extended Bonus Depreciation and Small Business Expensing through 2009,
allowing businesses that make capital investments to immediately deduct one-half the
cost. Small businesses can immediately deduct 100 percent of the cost of these
investments

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 would protect over 26 million working families across the nation from the Alternative Minimum Tax, representing thousands of dollars in additional income taxes.
According to the Congressional Research Service, 140,000 Utahns would be protected from the Alternative Minimum Tax in 2009.

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families in Utah

According to the Congressional Research Service, Utah would receive $8.7 million in TANF supplemental grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. These supplemental grants provide additional assistance to states with high population growth and/or increased poverty. Seventeen states qualify and currently receive these grants, which would expire in June 2009. The legislation would extend these grants for Fiscal Year 2010.

*Note that this provides estimates of highlights of the Division A of the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act of 2009. It is not a complete listing of all the benefits for Utah in the economic
recovery package.

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